Workers' Socialist Federation - Workers' Socialist Federation

Workers' Socialist Federation

The party enthusiastically supported the October Revolution of 1917 and renamed itself again, this time as the Workers' Socialist Federation. It was the first British party to affiliate to the Third International and lead campaigns against the British government's anti-Bolshevik activities with the slogan "Hands off Russia". It also began working with the South Wales Socialist Society (SWSS) and the London Workers' Committee.

Sylvia Pankhurst had become disillusioned with parliamentary politics, particularly after the death of Keir Hardie, and instead championed soviets. This led some syndicalists and anarchists to join the group. With the aim of forming a united British Communist Party, in April 1918 the WSF opened merger negotiations with the largest far left group in the country, the British Socialist Party (BSP). Although this engendered a co-operative relationship, the negotiations broke down, as the BSP would not countenance withdrawal from the Labour Party. Pankhurst attempted to convince Lenin of her positions, but he supported the proposed Communist Party tactically affiliating to Labour.

In June 1919, the WSF and BSP joined with the Socialist Labour Party (SLP) and SWSS in broader negotiations. They agreed the main points of unity, but Pankhurst still foresaw difficulties in any subsequent party which would engage in Parliamentary action, and initiated an alternative conference, inviting the SLP, SWSS and the Communist League but not the BSP.

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